Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dawn Adams over the phone. Adams is the Democratic candidate for the 2017 Virginia House of Delegates election in the 68th district, which includes parts of Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond. Adams has spent over 20 years working in the Richmond area as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, access to care researcher, and health advocate. She’s also the Director of the Office of Integrated Health for VA’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. She won the Old Dominion University Nursing Scholar award for her research project based around reducing healthcare cost.
I’m a 12-year-old activist for the ACLU of Virginia. I want to be an ACLU lawyer when I grow up. When Adams was my age, she wanted to become a surgeon. Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, however, she decided to run for state delegate. When I asked how she handles so many jobs at once, she told me she gets a lot less sleep. Adams’ favorite place to go in Virginia is anywhere with water, so part of her campaign is to keep the James River free from pollution.
Adams believes the ACLU is a critical organization for protecting constitutional rights throughout the nation – the First and Fourteenth amendments are critical to her. The First, she says, makes America a democracy and allows people to fight back when they believe something is wrong. She strongly supports freedom of speech, religious freedom, and freedom of assembly. Adams also believes the 14th amendment, which prevents most discrimination, hasn’t been expanded widely enough. In her opinion, if people used this amendment to its full potential, America would be a better place.
She says the issue of Confederate monuments is complex, and the mayor was wise to form a committee to discuss it. In her opinion, communities themselves should decide the monuments’ fates. “It’s not a win-win situation,” she explains. I asked for her thoughts on the ACLU defending KKK members’ rights in Charlottesville. She says you can’t deny someone the right to assemble. She wasn’t there, but she knows they had the right to assemble until the moment they became violent.
She also thinks if someone is born in the country, they deserve citizenship. Also, Adams told me that Trump has provided a false meaning of religious liberty. She knows it means anyone can practice any religion, not that one religion can be used to discriminate against other people.
Adams told me the best part of campaigning is talking to people in the community. If she wins she’ll work on quality education and affordable healthcare. She’s part of the LGBTQ community and believes everybody should have equal pay in the workplace.
I asked Adams why she thinks she deserves the community vote. “I have the knowledge, skills, ability, and heart to provide our district the inclusive and decisive leadership we have been lacking for years,” she told me. “I am unafraid to reach across the aisle and vote in the best interest of our citizens.”
She is very kind and cares about the input of her constituents.
When I asked if she had any advice for young people, she said, “You should be the one giving advice, not me. Kids listen to kids.”
At her request, I will give some advice to people my age. Obviously, you can’t vote, and money isn’t exactly abundant in a 12-year-old’s bank account. There are three easy things we can do, though. Firstly, we can host fundraisers. Even the smallest fundraiser can go a long way. Secondly, petitions; whether signing them or creating them, petitions are crucial to our democracy. Lastly, social media. Post to spread the word about the cause.
“The best ways for citizens to empower themselves starts with education,” she said when I asked how the average citizen could resist and fight back. “Understanding that each citizen has the power to change what they do not like in government. Voting far outweighs all others if you’re 18 and eligible – every vote really does count. Be relentless, be polite, be calm, but always persist. Make your leaders aware of your positions and why – be factual, concise, and clear.”
Remember to register to vote by October 16, because voting day is on November 7. Vote to make sure your candidate can become the delegate for the community. Even if you are not in the 68th district, that’s okay, because she supports Ralph Northam for governor and many other Virginian candidates.
Remember, keep calm and elect a nurse practitioner.